FandomFest2016: Accidentally Meeting the Boy Bands

On meeting Nick Carter of The Backstreet Boys at FandomFest, and not knowing who he was.

Saturday, July 27th: I’m an old punk and “pop” music isn’t my thing. [Of course, punk is pop music, but that is an argument for another time. And I love Britney Spears, but that is also a discussion for another time.]

However, I have never been and I am not into boy bands. I don’t know any of the members of boy bands. Well, except Justin Timberlake; but everyone knows JT. Yet somehow or another I ended up meeting a bunch of boy band alumni at FandomFest.

How did that happen?

Well for one, Fandomfest was pretty disorganized and discombobulated. If you read my previous update, you know there was a lot of confusion surrounding the white vouchers and the black tickets to get a photo taken with Stan Lee. It was a wreck, although it worked in my favor, because I got to move up in that line. They kept moving rooms, or the rooms on the schedule didn’t match the rooms on the FandomFest app; either way there was a lot of confusion. It didn’t help that everything was running late.

Fast forward to seven pm. It’s the VIP party. It’s supposed to be for people with VIP passes, of which there were several: “Exelsior VIP” with Stan Lee, Kevin Smith VIP, and one called the “Pop Idol VIP Experience. “ You’ve guessed the one I purchased. In fact, I was not aware at the time there was a Pop Idol Experience. It completely flew under my radar. My focus was on Stan Lee.

Walking into the VIP Party, there was a dj on stage hammering out remixes by N’Sync, Backstreet Boys, and other boy bands. The lights are flashing, but the room itself is pretty dark. I walked up to the bar and grab myself two Bud Lights (the choices were pretty limited, and if I’m going to drink swill, let it be swill I’m familiar with).

I take a seat at a round table where there is another guy sitting alone. I introduce myself and he introduces himself as Nick Carter.

And we just start chatting. Where we are from. He says the west coast. I say Tennessee. Our first FandomFest. How long it took us to get here. Simple pleasant conversation. No biggie.

And then I notice a gaggle of thirty-something year old women are hovering around our table, like helicopter parents watching their kids head into kindergarten for the first time. Well, I know they are not ‘coptering for me.

“Ok. I give. I’m going to ask you the dumbest question you will get all night.”

“What’s that?”

“Who are you?”

And he starts laughing. And I start laughing too.

“I was in The Backstreet Boys.” And then really starts laughing.

And somehow our laughter broke the seal on the hovering crowd. Suddenly there were cameras and phones and photographs, and huge smiles, and giggles, and hugs, and blushing, and “Thank yous” and “I love yous” and “You’re welcomes.”

For the ethnographer in me, the change was interesting, very Goffman like. We were having a backstage conversation, just the two of us, and then suddenly Nick Carter left the back stage. He moved to the front stage. Posing. Smiling. Laughing. Acting the part of “Nick Carter.” Not that he was a different Nick Carter altogether.

A few minutes later Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick [of N’Sync] arrived, along with AJ Mclean, Nick’s brother in arms from The Backstreet Boys. [Again, I had no idea who they were. I had to look them up on the app.] They were swarmed immediately by the crowd.  I took a lot of photos, but none of them really came out. The room was too dark.

I’m still not into Boy Bands. But you know what?

Nick Carter was cool AF.


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